Noel Coward? Frank Sinatra? Margaret McManus? Apocryphal?
Dear Quote Investigator: The popular English playwright Noel Coward apparently once suggested that he welcomed any amount of criticism as long as it was unqualified praise. Would you please help me to find a citation?
Quote Investigator: In January 1956 Noel Coward was interviewed by journalist Margaret McManus who asked him about his recent appearance in Las Vegas. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1
“It was a great success, so naturally I loved it,” he said. “If I hadn’t been a success I’d probably have blamed it on the scenery. I’d have said, ‘I hate it here.’”
“I always say I love criticism as long as it is unqualified praise.”
In March 1957 a columnist writing in “The Londonderry Sentinel” of Northern Ireland credited Coward with a different phrasing of the quip. QI believes he employed both versions: 2
Said Noel Coward: “I can take any amount of criticism as long as it is unqualified praise.”
Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.
- 1956 January 8, The Des Moines Register, Section: Iowa TV Magazine, Noel Coward a ‘Blithe Spirit’–in Sunny Jamaica (Continuation title: ‘I Love Criticism, Just So It’s Unqualified Praise’) by Margaret McManus (Exclusive Dispatch to The Iowa TV Magazine), Start Page 1, Quote Page 5, Column 3 and 4, Des Moines, Iowa. (Newspapers_com) ↩
- 1957 March 2, The Londonderry Sentinel, Limelight: The transformation of Sally Ann Howes by Thomas Wiseman, Quote Page 7, Column 5, Londonderry, Northern Ireland. (British Newspaper Archive) ↩